Students' internship experiences jeopardized in face of COVID-19

UCA Nursing students Hellen Palencia Rivas, Alicia Luangsisombath, Gabriel Gifford and Brittany Wiles taught a nursing class for the community last year. Because of teh COVID-19 pandemic, supplemental learning activities like internships and nursing clinicals have been canceled in the interest of preserving public health.

With the threat of coronavirus leading to the closure of public schools and overflowing healthcare facilites, education interns and nursing students on clinical may have their opportunity to gain experience in their field hindered.

Gov. Hutchinson has decided to use Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI), which is used during snow days for at-home instruction, to finish out the semester for K-12. AMI allows interns teaching at public schools to teach through video conferencing, home packets and phone calls. 

Since K-12 will continue online, Dean of Education Victoria Scott Groves doesn’t expect the coronavirus to cause any delays in graduation. 

Senior Martha Pearce, an intern at Conway High School, has concerns about losing her in-person teaching experience. 

“I have been wondering if this will affect my first year of teaching. I’m hoping that it won’t, but I never got to teach my unit plan on 'The Scarlet Letter,' which was my capstone project essentially. I still wrote the unit plan, so I got experience with writing a two-week plan for my specific students. However, I’m afraid that it may be more stressful for me going into a new job without the experience of actually teaching my own unit. And, of course, losing about two months of my internship takes away a lot of in-class teaching time I could have had,” Pearce said.

Similar to education interns, nursing students on clinical will lose in-person experience, but will still be able to finish their clinicals online. 

Hospitals made the decision to suspend clinicals because there would be issues providing everyone with protective personal equipment (PPE). 

Despite being suspended from hosptials, Undergraduate Program Coordinator Julie Meaux believes the nursing program will still be able to teach their course objectives. 

“Fortunately, we have a lot of really great software simulation programs that we were able to continue to meet our student course objectives using virtual simulation. Now, we would never do that completely, but we were almost about three-quarters of the way through the semester and all the students had direct clinical experiences,” Meaux said.

Assistant Professor Keitha Griffith sais she used the coronavirus as a learning opportunity by having students complete courses on CDC programs.

The nursing program sees clincials being suspended as an opportunity to allow more student interaction and discussion through forums like Blackboard. 

Having clinicals suspended will not affect licensing or delay graduation for nursing students.

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